Entry salary at Detroit Symphony rises to $105,000

Entry salary at Detroit Symphony rises to $105,000


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2020

Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have agreed a 3-year deal, raising the base wage to $105,000 in 2024.

What’s not to like?


Other terms:

The number of musicians will rise from 87 to 88.

They will play 39 weeks with 4 weeks paid vacation.


  • Patrick says:

    A bare minimum, considering the wealth of talent in the DSO!

  • Paul says:

    You need a proofreader.

  • Bone says:

    Happy to see that Detroit has some positives provided thru the growth of private industry, but I fear the socialist leanings of the city will eventually sap the willpower of entrepreneurs. We shall see, I guess.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Not bad if one compares that with British Orchestras. This is why I do not have huge amount of sympathy with industrial disputes in American orchestras.

    • Robin Smith says:

      I’ve seen many a payroll in my time and with specific reference to the UK/USA situation the thing I noticed most was that the guys on the shop floor (high technology manufacturing organisations) were paid equivalent amounts (adjusting for the exchange rate) whilst the guys anywhere near Management grades were paid far more in the USA (50% more was usual).

  • Dave,the music teacher says:

    Compare this with a beginning teacher’s salary in Detroit. The work year is about the same, but the salary differential is enormous. And, musicians don’t have to worry about being assaulted or shot.

    • Bruce says:

      Compare with basketball players in the NBA. The work year is about the same, but the salary differential is enormous. And, basketball players don’t have to worry about being assaulted or shot.

    • David P Assemany says:

      What’s your point here? I hope it is that teachers don’t make enough, not that orchestra musicians make too much.

    • Joseph says:

      Do you honestly think the skill set of the average beginning teacher in Detroit is on the level of a first year member of the DSO??? Do entry-level teacher’s compete against up to 100+ other applicants for their position? Apples and oranges. I am in no way taking the position that teachers should not be paid better than they are. They should be paid much better. But this is a false comparison, and doesn’t contribute to the discussion in a positive way for either teachers or DSO players.

      • Bruce says:

        There will always be people willing to express outrage over musician salaries, no matter how low. When my orchestra went on strike several years ago, the publication of our base salary of $17,000 actually helped the management turn public opinion against the musicians :-/

    • SMH says:

      In addition to extensive training, musicians are required to purchase and maintain their instruments. Are you aware how mush a top modern violin/vla/cello or bass costs? I’m not even mentioning Italian makers of earlier periods. It’s a lot of money. Strings, bows etc. Oboists and bassoonists are not paid for the hours spent making reeds, it’s part of the job. IMO orchestral musicians are underpaid!

  • Tom says:

    ‘They will play 39 weeks with 4 weeks paid vacation.’ This totals a 43-week season, or seems to. Is there a summer festival in the vicinity that employs many of the musicians?

    • Dave T says:

      A different way to put this is 43 weeks of pay for 39 weeks of work. The paid vacation is 4 weeks. The unpaid vacation portion is 9 weeks. That’s 13 weeks in which they don’t have to work (yes, I know, they do keep practicing).

      What a cush job! I don’t want to hear the bitching from musicians any more.